Feed My Sheep: A Response to COVID-19 Food Insecurities

by | Sep 17, 2020

Like so many churches, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, where I serve as deacon, is not large and does not have an unlimited budget–which necessarily means we must have a laser focus on what social outreach we undertake. In the best tradition of “feed my sheep,” we long ago decided to concentrate on food ministries. And to that end, our members are supporters of Shepherd’s Table, a soup kitchen style establishment in downtown Silver Spring, noted for serving 3 meals a day, 365 days per year, for over 20 years. We provide brown bag lunches for a men’s shelter in Rockville, and we serve a meal at Center Global, a Washinton,DC-based organization offering support to LGBTQ asylum seekers from around the world. We contribute to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church’s Food Pantry, which supplies food to families in DC and Silver Spring.  

But COVID-19 has changed the food needs of our communities. 

Thousands of people in Montgomery County have lost jobs, as quarantines were imposed and institutions shut their doors. We have long had a large minority and immigrant population who provide labor for DC and Montgomery County businesses of all kinds. Many of this population are not eligible for unemployment insurance or any form of assistance such as Food Stamps. Some who are eligible find it difficult to negotiate the application and qualification process. The result is an ever increasing need for food in more and more households. 

Donations to area food banks have decreased just as the need suddenly increased.  

This summer, therefore, Good Shepherd began a Food Drive ministry. Every two weeks we hold a drive-by food collection in our parking lot. Congregation volunteers, masked and practicing social distancing protocols, meet on Saturday morning to receive the food donations handed through vehicle windows. The food is then packed into cars and taken to Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg. 

We will continue this ministry as long as it is needed.  

As the food insecurities of Montgomery County rise, we continue to search for more opportunities to help stave off the growing problem of hunger. As a Christian community, we stay tuned into the ever-changing needs of our neighbors and seek ways to adapt how we help. While maintaining our current ministries, we are now looking into supplying food and meals to Shepherd’s Table, who are also feeding a growing population. We try to fulfill our baptismal vows by seeking out the hungry and needy in our community, and finding new ways to fulfill Jesus’ command to “feed my sheep.”

The Rev. Kathryn E. McMahon
Deacon, Church of the Good Shepherd, Silver Spring